Tag Archive: Michigan


West Roster Notes:

Quarterbacks:

Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois) is the best QB on this roster but he had a rough day as he missed high on a number of throws throughout practice. I have seen this on film before so it didn’t surprise me that it showed up during this week of practice, but it’s still a concern. His accuracy and arm strength are both above average, but they aren’t good or great. That’s why I don’t think he’s got much starter potential in the NFL, though I do think that he could develop on a depth chart for a while and emerge as a capable back-up and spot starter. Tyler Hansen (Colorado) looked solid today as he continues to have solid mechanics. He’s a fringe draftable prospect though, and despite looking good today Dan Persa (Northwestern) isn’t more than an undrafted free agent at this point. I like what Persa brings to the table though, so I think he should play in the CFL.

Running Backs:

I’m not very high on Marc Tyler (Southern Cal) and Lennon Creer (Louisiana Tech), though both flashed some potential today. Tyler is a strong guy who caught the ball better out of the backfield pretty well today, and Creer even lined up in the slot at times and looks strong up close in person. My favorite back on this roster is still Bobby Rainey (Western Kentucky) though. He’s a smaller back but he’s quick and has good burst. Inexplicably the West wasn’t in full pads today so the backs didn’t show much for the second day in a row, but they will hopefully provide more value in the next two days and in the game on Saturday that I will be in the press box for.

Wide Receivers:

Jarius Wright (Arkansas) had a much better day today catching the ball and continues to run good routes as expected. He has the most upside of all the receivers at the Shrine Game and if he continues to catch the ball well this week he will move up boards. He didn’t do that well yesterday, but his speed and route running is catching scouts’ attention. Devon Wylie (Fresno State) is catching scouts’ attention as well and he continued to catch the ball well and run good routes today. He’s definitely impressed me this week and is definitely moving up many people’s WR rankings.

I’m still not high on Dale Moss (South Dakota State) though he did look better running routes today and caught the ball well. He didn’t look as slow as yesterday, but still didn’t look fast. He’s got quality size and he’s got pretty good hands, I just wonder how well he will create separation in the NFL.

Darius Hanks (Alabama) didn’t look as good as I expected him to today. He’s undersized and though he improved his hands over the course of this season I am still not 100% sold on him. He’s got potential as a slot guy and I could see him as a 5th/6th round guy right now, but I am interested to see if he brings more to the table the rest of the week.

I have continued to be impressed by Tyler Shoemaker (Boise State). As I mentioned yesterday he comes back to the ball well, I still haven’t seen him drop a pass, and is still creating separation with his route running. He seems like an underrated receiver to me and I definitely think he will get drafted and stick on a 53 man roster.

Greg Childs (Arkansas) still doesn’t look 100%, though he looked better today than he did yesterday when he was running routes. He’s got good hands, that was never in question, it’s all about that knee and how much of his previous athleticism he can get back. This week is big for him. Junior Hemingway (Michigan) seemed to have a better day today, though I still question his speed and burst a bit. We’ll see if he builds on this and improves throughout the week.

Tight Ends:

Not surprisingly, I still like what I am seeing from David Paulson (Oregon) catching the ball. I have not been impressed with George Bryan (North Carolina State) as a receiver though. I didn’t focus much on the TE’s today, but Bryan did look good as a blocker.

Offensive Line:

Tom Compton (South Dakota) intrigues me for multiple reasons. First, he has a fantastic first name. Second, he looked pretty good at left tackle for the West today. I’m not sure he can stick there in the NFL, but I think he has a chance to stick at right tackle at the next level. He showed some push in the run game and has solid length for an offensive tackle with just under 34 inch arms which helped him in pass protection. He did get blown by on a speed rush by Justin Francis on the first play of team drills, but it was a quick throw so it may have gone largely unnoticed.

I liked what I saw from a few offensive guards today. Brandon Brooks (Miami, Ohio) was definitely the stud of the bunch as he provided quality push in the run game and could not be bull rushed in 1 on 1 drills. He’s raw as a technician with his hands, but he’s got so much power and strength that he definitely has starting upside as a guard. I’ll need to watch more of him after this week. I also liked what Al Netter (Northwestern) did inside at guard today. I definitely like him more inside at guard than I do at tackle, though I think he could kick out to RT if necessary. He looked much more comfortable at guard and handled DaJohn Harris twice when he was inside. I also liked some of what I saw from Ben Heenan (Saskatchewan) at guard today. He did a good job against the bigger, stronger Dominique Hamilton in 1 on 1’s and looked good overall in the 1 on 1 drills. He didn’t look great in the team drills, but I think there is potential there. I think he’s a long term developmental guy, but he showed some toughness and nastiness despite not being in pads and I liked that.

I was not impressed at all with Ryan Miller (Colorado) or Moe Petrus (Connecticut) today though. Miller got absolutely dominated by bull rushes from DaJohn Harris and Vaughn Meatoga today and looked like he was too tall/not strong enough to anchor as a guard and didn’t look like he had the length to play outside at tackle either. Coming into the week it looked like he could have been a riser, but I have not been impressed so far. Petrus also struggled with quality defensive tackles 1 on 1 today in drills, though I think he has potential to be drafted and stashed late in the draft. However, today David Snow (Texas) looked like the better Center prospect at times.

Defensive Line:

DaJohn Harris (Southern Cal) continued to impress as expected today, though he wasn’t perfect. He ended up on the ground a couple times, once when he was matched up with Brandon Brooks, and was neutralized by Al Netter’s length when he went up against him once or twice in drills. He is disruptive in team drills though and continues to help himself. He’s been underrated all year so it’s not surprising to see him playing well.

Dominique Hamilton (Missouri) has the size and strength to be a good run stuffer in the NFL, but he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher which limits his value. He also doesn’t look like a guy who can take on double teams and stuff the run in a 3-4 defense. But if he is going to play the nose tackle position in a 4-3 teams will want more from him as a pass rusher. Will be interesting to see what he shows the rest of the week.

Kentrell Lockett (Ole Miss) is an impressive athlete and showed that he has some ability today by surprising a couple of the West offensive tackles with a bull rush and some speed off the edge. He’s got long, 34 inch arms along with his 6’5” frame and surprising power given his 243 pound weigh-in.

I wasn’t that impressed with Arnaud Nadon (Laval) or Kaniela Tuipulotu (Hawaii) today, but Vaughn Meaotga (Hawaii) showed a nice bull rush on a couple instances, but has struggled to shed blocks so far this week. Justin Francis (Rutgers) has been fun to watch so far this week and seems like he is the emotional leader of the defensive line group. He seems to have a lot of energy and seems pretty excitable.

Linebackers:

I didn’t see much of the linebackers on the West today, but I did see Josh Kaddu (Oregon) running well with tight ends again, and I did see Tank Carder (TCU) dropping effectively in zone and he had good coverage on a running back out of the backfield on one play. But enough with these shells, put some pads on these guys!

Defensive Backs:

The best corner on the West roster is Shaun Prater (Iowa) and it’s not even close in my opinion. He is the only corner that has looked good in drills, 1 on 1 and in team situations this week. He doesn’t have great size but he is a pretty fluid athlete, seems to flip his hips well, turns and runs pretty well and has solid ball skills despite not having great hands for the interception. He could end up in the 4th round (which is incidentally where I projected him before the season).

I’m not high on Keith Tandy (West Virginia) after the first two days of practice. I haven’t been impressed with him in man coverage and his ball skills haven’t impressed me. I have a 6th round grade on him right now because I think he has ability in zone. One guy I had never paid any attention to before is Rodney McLeod (Virginia). He looked good in drills but struggled some in 1 on 1’s and in team. I think he has a little upside, but he struggled to locate the ball in the air today.

Aaron Henry (Wisconsin) and Blake Gideon (Texas) both looked good and fluid in their back-pedals in drills today, but I want to see them more in game situations when they are tested. They aren’t great in man coverage, so I want to see more of them back at their more natural positions. Duke Ihenacho (San Jose State) was a guy I liked coming into the week but he has struggled in coverage overall but particularly in man coverage unfortunately. He looks like a 4.6 40 yard dash guy which is where he is supposed to time.

West Roster Notes:

Quarterbacks:

Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois: Not surprisingly Harnish was the best quarterback on the field for the West practice this afternoon. He doesn’t excel in any one phase of the game but is sound in most of them. He showed above average ball velocity today and had a couple impressive bucket throws downfield including a great one down the sideline against good coverage to Devon Wylie. Harnish is probably the 2nd best quarterback here and it showed today. He was definitely the most impressive quarterback on the West roster and I imagine it will remain that way for most of the week.

Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern: This is going to sound like an insult, but I truly believe that Dan Persa has the skill set to be a terrific CFL quarterback. I’m sure that’s not what he wants to hear (I wouldn’t want to hear it right now either) but being a quality CFL quarterback is a lot better than taking a shot at the NFL and quitting after you didn’t make it. His size hurts him as he measured in at 5’11” this morning and while he has some arm strength and solid accuracy I just don’t think he will be able to stick in the NFL. I enjoy watching him play though and that’s why I think he could be so good in the CFL.

Tyler Hansen, QB, Colorado: Hansen played better today than I expected him to but that isn’t saying a whole lot. He regularly just stared down one side of the field and threw to his primary read which got monotonous after a while, but he showed the ability to throw the ball on the move and has solid arm strength and accuracy. He’s a fringe draftable prospect at this point and I don’t think he has a future in the NFL outside of a career back-up but he wasn’t bad today.

Running Backs:

Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky: As I mentioned in the East roster post, today was not the day to take a lot of notes on running backs. It was a shells practice and you couldn’t tackle, so there wasn’t a lot to glean from the running backs. Rainey looked the best of anyone though as he showed good burst and quickness as well as soft hands as he caught passes in the flat (unlike Marc Tyler who dropped a pass or two and lacked burst). I am definitely going to keep an eye on him the rest of the week, he caught my eye today.

Wide Receivers:

Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas: I went out on a limb and said that Jarius Wright was the best prospect at this game and while I still think he has that potential he definitely had his highs and his lows today. He demonstrated his fantastic athleticism as he burned a number of defensive backs today, created consistent separation and ran crisp routes. He caught the ball well with his hands early on in practice and flashed the ability to come down with a pass in traffic as he made a nice catch on a deep ball for one of the only touchdowns I saw the whole day. However, his hands were also an issue today as he let a number of passes bounce off his hands and hit the turf. I’m not sure if it’s a concentration issue, a hands issue or both, but it was frustrating to watch as the practice wore on. I’m still high on Jarius and I am going to try to track him down for an interview but I hope he catches the ball better the rest of the week than he did today.

Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas: Childs is supposed to be healthy, but he didn’t quite look like his old self today. He didn’t have much burst in and out of his breaks and looked relatively slow when he was running his routes. He displayed good hands as expected and I don’t think I saw him drop a pass today, but considering his skinny frame and his somewhat unimpressive route running this afternoon I am a little worried about his stock. I’m not sure if the knee injury is still bothering him or not, but I talked to him after practice and will have an interview with him later this week.

Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State: Wylie was probably the best player on the entire West roster today. He displayed good hands, good route running, impressive burst and quickness and was just fun to watch at receiver today. He adjusted to the ball well deep and tracked the ball well into his hands and helped make one of the best plays of the day on a deep ball from Chandler Harnish against good coverage. I was waiting for him after the practice to try to talk to him but scout after scout was talking to him, and it looked like a Ravens scout even had him filling out a survey of some kind as someone was announcing that the player bus was leaving soon. I took that as a sign to try to talk to him later, but he definitely helped himself a lot today and I, as well as many other people, was very impressed by his play today.

Dale Moss, WR, South Dakota State: I mistakenly tweeted that Moss “truck-sticked” a player at the East practice earlier today, but obviously that was a mix-up on my part. I have to say that I was not very impressed by Moss today. He measured in well at 6’3”, 220 pounds with 10 1/8 inch hands and a 79 ¼ inch wingspan, but he looked slow the entire practice and didn’t impress me as a route runner. The sad thing is that he still created separation despite route running without much suddenness or burst which really says a lot about some of the players in the West secondary. I’m not high on Moss right now, but we will see what he shows the rest of the week.

Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan: Hemingway was not very impressive today either. He also looked slow and didn’t create a lot of separation due to his route running. His hands were also inconsistent and that really hurts him. He’s not a burner and I didn’t think he was going to be able to threaten defenses vertically in the NFL like he did in college and that seemed to hold true today as he just couldn’t catch up to a couple pretty well thrown deep balls this afternoon.

Tyler Shoemaker, WR, Boise State: Shoemaker may have been the second best receiver on the field today behind Wylie. I noted multiple times that Shoemaker seemed to be the only receiver who continued to come back to the ball after making his breaks on curls, etc. That’s good coaching in my opinion and a couple of times it enabled him to catch a pass relatively easily when it could have been a tough catch in traffic had he completed his break and stood there while the corner closed. I don’t think I saw him drop a single pass today so his hands definitely impressed me and he seems to be pretty athletic. I liked what I saw from him today and I definitely think he has draftable talent.

Tight Ends:

David Paulson, TE, Oregon: I have been signing Paulson’s praises for a long time and while he wasn’t a stud today he did make a few nice catches on high throws and I don’t think I saw him drop a pass today. He’s underrated and while he doesn’t project well as an in-line TE he can definitely contribute to a NFL passing game at TE or H-Back. He’s consistent and catches the ball when it comes his way, that’s all you can ask.

George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State: This kid is big but my god is he slow. I see why people were mentioning moving him to offensive tackle, though I have seen plenty of offensive tackles move better than he did as a route runner at times today. Not only that, but a couple times he let passes bounce right off his hands when he wasn’t 5 yards downfield. His hands are definitely inconsistent and his speed and lack of quickness will really make it hard for teams to draft him early. He’s a late round pick at this point in my opinion, but the move to offensive tackle may not be a realistic one at this point considering his 33 ¼ inch arm measurement. That’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.

Kevin Koger, TE, Michigan: Koger didn’t flash much today. He showed pretty solid hands but didn’t look fluid in his routes and seemed to lake suddenness and burst in and out of his breaks. I’m not sure he’s going to do very well as an in-line tight end this week but we will see how he does in the run game. I think Koger is an underrated pass catcher but he has more to prove to me this week.

Offensive Line:

I didn’t see much of the offensive line at practice today since I had a much better look at the 1 on 1’s for the receivers and defensive backs, but I will definitely keep an eye on them throughout the week.

Defensive Line:

Again, I didn’t see a lot of the defensive line today either but when I did watch I was impressed by DaJohn Harris and Dominique Hamilton. Harris was consistently in the backfield when I saw him today which doesn’t surprise me one bit because I think he is one of the most underrated players here. Hamilton is a big, big guy and looked pretty strong at the POA when I saw him, but I have to see a lot more of both of them.

Linebackers:

I didn’t see a lot of the linebackers today, but predictably Tank Carder looked good in coverage. I’m very interested to see how he does in the box against the run the rest of the week. We all knew he could drop into coverage, now we need to see how he does filling versus the run in the middle of the defense. Jerry Franklin also flashed some ability in coverage which was good to see, but I definitely didn’t see him enough to make many conclusions about him. Josh Kaddu was a player I had never really watched before and he flashed potential to me today. He is an athletic kid and he demonstrated that when dropping into coverage today. I don’t know much about him, but I’m looking forward to learning more about him as the week goes on.

Cornerbacks:

Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa: Prater was the best of this lackluster group in my opinion. He closes on passes well and drove on the ball well in practice today for the most part. He should have had at least one interception when he made a nice break on the ball but it went right off his chest. He doesn’t have very good hands but he does have pretty good ball skills. He looks like the cream of his unimpressive crop early in the week.

Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia: Tandy did not impress me at all today. He was playing pretty soft coverage and gave up slants pretty freely today. His backpedal looked high and I didn’t think he turned and ran well with receivers downfield. He has a lot of work to do to help his stock this week because he definitely didn’t do so today in my opinion.

Brandon Hardin, CB, Oregon State: Hardin may have been the worst of this batch of defensive backs and that is absolutely not a good thing. He inexplicably gave up slants over and over again and never showed any burst to close. It was baffling really, but slow receivers were creating 3 yards of separation against him on simple slant routes. He seemed to be reacting in slow motion and just looked awful today.

Rodney McLeod, CB, Virginia: I didn’t see much of McLeod, but I also didn’t see him getting beaten that much either. That puts him in the top half of this crop of defensive backs unfortunately. He is only 5’9.5”, 195 pounds which hurts him, but he may be a sleeper in this group of corners. I’ll keep a closer eye on him the rest of the week.

Safeties:

None of the safeties were particularly impressive in my opinion. Duke Ihenacho and Blake Gideon didn’t look very good in man coverage though I didn’t really expect Ihenacho to be good there. He did look slow in man coverage though which was concerning. I’m not as high on Aaron Henry as others are because I think he gives up too many big plays but that wasn’t as much of an issue on day one of practice. We will see how he does the rest of the week.

Punters:

Brian Anger, P, California: I almost forgot to include him in this, but he needs to be mentioned. I was watching him punt early on in practice and in comparison with Matt Prewitt from Kentucky Christian he looked fantastic. You can really tell when a punter or a kicker has a strong leg because the ball will sound like a gun-shot (or something similar) when it comes off of his foot. That was the case for Anger today and he was getting fantastic hang time (though I didn’t have a stop watch handy). He was beating the pigskin off the ball today and while he may not end up getting drafted if he keeps punting like this all week he will make a NFL roster.

Quarterbacks:

-Tyler Hansen, QB, Colorado: 6’0”, 215 pounds, 4.78 40 yard dash
-Hansen is a very average prospect and is definitely on the less talented roster as far as quarterbacks are concerned. He had the best season of his career by far this year with 2,883 passing yards, a 56.3 completion percentage (his career best was 68.3% the previous year on fewer attempts) and had a career high for touchdowns and interceptions by posting 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also offers value as a runner thanks to his athleticism and he totaled 115 yards and 3 touchdowns rushing this season. I’m not a fan of Hansen but getting an invite to this game is a chance for him to improve his stock from a near certain undrafted free agent to a possible 7th round pick or maybe a little bit higher. He doesn’t have NFL size which will hurt him, but I would expect him to measure in at 6’0”. He’s always had a solid arm, but his accuracy has been a problem throughout his career. It will be interesting to see how far he has progressed since two years ago but I am not expecting a whole lot.

-Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois: 6’2”, 220 pounds, 4.72 40 yard dash
-Harnish is a solid quarterback that has plenty of starting experience and an impressive resume of production and success as the NIU signal caller. He doesn’t have great size or arm strength but he is a powerful runner who can pick up yardage with his legs. His arm strength is above average and he has above average accuracy in my opinion, but I’m not sold on him having much upside as a NFL starter. This week will be big for him because his grade seems to vary from a 4th round range all the way to a 6th round range, so having a good week in front of scouts will help him establish himself as a 4th-5th round developmental prospect. He has tools, I just don’t think there is a vast amount of improvement left for him to achieve, making me wonder how much upside is there.

-Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern: 5’11”, 210 pounds, 4.63 40 yard dash
-Persa is an interesting quarterback. I personally think there are a few senior quarterbacks that could have replaced Ryan Lindley at this game aside from Persa such as Dominique Davis, Patrick Witt, Aaron Corp or maybe even Case Keenum. However, Persa has been a very productive player at Northwestern and has a good shot here to either get himself picked up as a priority free agent or possibly to get drafted in the very late portion of the draft. He has thrown 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions over the past two seasons while amassing 10 more touchdowns rushing (though 9 of them came as a junior). His height will be a detriment to him and I’m not sure he has enough arm talent to convince teams to take a chance on him like Russell Wilson does. However, this week is a chance for him to prove that he does, and I do like his intangibles. It will be fun to see him in person, so hopefully he has a good week and helps his stock.

Running Backs:

– Marc Tyler, RB, Southern California: 5’10”, 230 pounds, 4.59 40 yard dash
-Tyler is a guy that I was never very impressed with at Southern Cal. He’s had problems getting nicked up and missing time with injuries in his career, and while he was a highly touted recruit he never really lived  up to the hype even when he was given plenty of opportunity to do so over the last two seasons. He was replaced by Curtis McNeal as the full time back later in the season and he seized the opportunity finishing with 1,005 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns once he finally started to get carries. But because McNeal was getting the lions-share of the carries (double digit carries for the last 7 games, never had under 86 yards rushing) that left Marc Tyler in a reserve role which limited his production and hurt his stock. I’m not expecting a lot from Tyler but if he could stay healthy he could possibly find a place in the NFL. I’m anxious to see how healthy he is for this week because a lot of the times I have watched him he’s been nicked up or slowed by something. This is a big week for him so hopefully he has a good week, but he’s not high on my RB rankings.

Wide Receivers:

-Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas: 6’3”, 217 pounds, 4.56 40 yard dash
-Childs is a guy that I think is going to help his stock without a doubt this week. He suffered a serious injury last year at which point he was Ryan Mallett’s go-to guy at receiver and he was not healthy the entire year until possibly Arkansas’ bowl game. He should be 100% now though and that means he is going to have every opportunity to remind people why he was so highly thought of last season before his injury. He isn’t a burner but he can stretch teams vertically due to his size and length, he has very reliable hands and is practically an automatic 3rd down conversion machine. He provides value as a 3rd down receiver and as a red zone threat for this reason, and even if he can’t display much potential beyond that I think it will help his stock and get him drafted. He has upside but he is also very reliable which makes me wonder why he is projected so low by so many people. I usually prescribe to the saying “the tape don’t lie” but Childs is one of the exceptions to that rule. The tape he has from this year is of him at much less than 100%, and being able to see him in person when he should be close or at 100% is something I am very excited about.

-Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan: 6’1”, 222 pounds, 4.54 40 yard dash
-Hemingway was a highly touted coming out of high school but never lived up to the expectations of him at Michigan, largely because of poor quarterback play. Hemingway has solid size but he looks very slow when he’s running routes and attempting to get vertical. I thought he was a tight end at first because he looked so slow. Regardless, he has shown some talent and has a chance to help improve his stock, but if he doesn’t show more speed in and out of his breaks as well as reliable hands I think he will hurt his stock this week. He’s got talent, but he’s a fringe draftable prospect at this point and I’m not sure his game translates perfectly to the NFL. Here’s hoping he has a good week though.

-Tyler Shoemaker, WR, Boise State: 6’1”, 212 pounds, 4.50 40 yard dash
-Shoemaker was always stuck lower on the depth chart behind Boise State’s talented wide receivers but he really emerged this season as one of Kellen Moore’s go-to guys as he totaled 62 receptions, 994 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s a pretty athletic guy and while he isn’t a freak athlete I think he has NFL athleticism and quality hands. He could definitely be a riser this week and I personally think he will end up getting drafted. If he doesn’t I would be shocked if he didn’t end up making a roster.

-Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas: 5’10”, 180 pounds, 4.34 40 yard dash
-Jarius Wright may be the best prospect at the East-West Shrine Game. I’m very high on him and he’s had a terrific season at Arkansas, so honestly I am baffled that he isn’t at the Senior Bowl with his teammate Joe Adams. Regardless, I am happy that he is at this game so I can get a look at him close up. Personally I think he is the best candidate to play so well this week that he actually merits a late invitation to the Senior Bowl. We’ll see if that prediction comes true, but I think there is a solid chance of that happening. Wright is extremely explosive, he’s very fast and he has quality hands. I think he should end up in the 2nd or 3rd round of the NFL draft and I think the Shrine Game and the combine will both provide a big boost to his draft stock. He’s an impressive athlete but he’s also a very good football player (a better one than Joe Adams, even if he isn’t as explosive as a return man) and I would love to have him on my team if I needed a guy to make plays in the slot and to stretch defenses vertically. I’m high on Wright, so look for him to have a terrific week in St. Pete.

-Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: 6’3”, 222 pounds, 4.58 40 yard dash
-Robinson is the definition of a possession receiver in my opinion. He was by far Brock Osweiler’s favorite target at Arizona State this year and I truly believe his graduation (in addition to the firing of his head coach) pushed Osweiler to declare this year instead of staying for his senior season. I like Robinson but I don’t think he is going to be as significant of a downfield threat in the NFL as he was at Arizona State. He doesn’t have great speed but he does have impressive size and reliable hands. I’ve seen him drop some passes but he has regularly come up with big 3rd down conversions and big catches for Arizona State this season. He’s a late round pick at this point and while I don’t expect him to “wow” a lot of people and boost his stock into the 4th round range I think he has a great shot to solidify himself as a 5th/6th round pick that will be able to stick on a roster and work himself into a contributing role.

Tight Ends:

-Kevin Koger, TE, Michigan: 6’4”, 258 pounds, 4.78 40 yard dash
-Koger is a very underrated TE that was severely underutilized at Michigan thanks to their inconsistent quarterback play their limited number of passing attempts. He’s a quality receiver though and I think he will be a quality NFL player at the position. He only had 23 receptions, 244 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season but I expect him to open some eyes this week because I think he warrants 4th round consideration. Not everyone has him that high, but after this week I think those that underrated him will start to come around.

-George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State: 6’5”, 265 pounds, 5.14 40 yard dash
-Bryan is a big, physical tight end prospect that I have even heard rumblings about moving him to offensive tackle. That’s nothing concrete obviously, but considering his lack of speed and his relatively unimpressive hands that may be on the table at some point. He’s not going to threaten defenses down the seam and he is strictly a possession receiver that will use his large frame to make catches underneath and in traffic. His hands aren’t great though and that worries me, because I think it limits his potential to make catches in traffic. I think he has the potential to stick as a TE, but the potential move to offensive tackle is an interesting one.

-David Paulson, TE, Oregon: 6’3”, 242 pounds, 4.82 40 yard dash
-I am really high on David Paulson and I seem to be one of the few in that respect, but I don’t mind that. He may not be the biggest, the strongest or the fastest but as I have said over and over I value players that make big plays when their teams need them the most. While Paulson doesn’t have a great track record of statistical production and only had 31 receptions, 438 yards and 6 touchdowns this year, but many of those moved the chains and extended drives for Oregon. There are plenty of explosive playmakers on that Ducks roster so Paulson isn’t the primary or secondary target by any means. However, he was the glue guy that Darron Thomas could locate if he needed someone to make a catch and I think that value applies to the NFL. I think Paulson can threaten defenses vertically despite not being a freak athlete and he has very reliable hands. I fully expect him to be a riser this week and I think he definitely deserves to be drafted.

Offensive Tackles:

-Ryan Miller, OT, Colorado: 6’8”, 298 pounds, 5.32 40 yard dash
-Every year or two there seems to be a guy that played offensive guard in college that shows enough ability to kick outside to offensive tackle in the NFL. A couple years ago it was Branden Albert, and this year it seems to be Ryan Miller. Miller obviously doesn’t have a lot of experience playing offensive tackle so that will probably show early in the week. The true litmus test of whether or not he can stick outside at tackle will be if he progresses and improves over the course of the week. If he does then his stock should be boosted considerably because he doesn’t project very well to the inside due to his sheer size. He’s not a stud offensive tackle prospect, but he definitely has developmental potential. I’m excited to see how he does early in the week and how he progresses as he is coached up.

-Al Netter, OT, Northwestern: 6’4”, 310 pounds, 5.26 40 yard dash
-I wrote about Netter and Northwestern in the offseason last year and I was not impressed with Netter at all. I still don’t think he’s a likely NFL Draft pick, but while he demonstrated quality technique in some aspects he really struggled with his hand placements, seemed to be getting away with holding quite often, had poor balance and an awkward kick slide. I haven’t seen him much this year and not many of my thoughts have changed on him, but I am interested to see how he has progressed and how he does this week. He will likely be at right tackle because I don’t think he projects well to the left side at all, but if he can show some improvement then he has a chance to be drafted. Right now I don’t think he will be selected come April.

-Matt Reynolds, OT, Brigham Young: 6’4”, 305 pounds, 5.28 40 yard dash
-Reynolds is a guy that plenty of people were projecting as an early draft pick had he come out last year, but I have always had a much lower grade on him than everyone else. I think he has to move inside to guard first of all, and even then I’m not very high on him. I thought he was a late round pick when I scouted him last season and not a lot has changed for me since then. He has more upside as a guard than he does at tackle, but he bends at the waist at times, isn’t as strong in the run game as I would like, and doesn’t anchor well in pass protection. He has a lot to prove to me this week if he wants me to change my mind on him, because right now he is not a quality NFL prospect in my eyes.

-Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota: 6’6”, 312 pounds, 5.15 40 yard dash
-Compton is an offensive tackle that I’m not very familiar with and I haven’t seen him play before, but having read up on him a bit he is definitely someone I will be watching. He is one of the more talented offensive linemen on the West roster and has a chance to make himself a lot of money with a quality performance this week. I’ll be keeping a close eye on him because he and Miller have a great chance to show what they can do at the offensive tackle spot this week.

Offensive Guards:

-Markus Zusevics, OG, Iowa: 6’5”, 300 pounds, 5.08 40 yard dash
-Zusevics played right tackle at Iowa but I’m not sold on him sticking at that position and it doesn’t seem like many other people are either. I think guard may be the best spot for him, so it will be interesting to see how he does playing inside this week. He could stand to add weight to his frame, and because he isn’t a great athlete I think getting stronger will be necessary for him. His measurements will be important for him, particularly his arm length.

Centers:

-Moe Petru, C, Connecticut: 6’2”, 302 pounds, 5.04 40 yard dash
-Petrus is another experienced center in a class that seems to be full of them. Rarely are center classes as potentially deep as this one is, especially now that Peter Konz has declared to give the center position a 1st round candidate. I am interested to see how Petrus does because he could be a nice 4th-5th round steal for a team that needs a reliable center that can create some push off the ball in the run game. He’s not a stud center, but I think he has a long NFL career in front of him.

1- Orson Charles, TE, Georgia: Grade: 1st round
2- Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson: Grade: 1st round
3- Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: Grade: 1st round
4- Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: Grade: 2nd round
5- Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri: Grade: 2nd round
6- Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana Lafayette: Grade: 3rd round
7- David Paulson, TE, Oregon: Grade: 3rd round
8- Deangelo Peterson, TE, LSU: Grade: 3rd/4th round
9- Brian Linthicum, TE, Michigan State: Grade: 4th round
10- Kevin Koger, TE, Michigan: Grade: 4th round
11- George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State: Grade: 4th/5th round
12- Tyler Urban, TE, West Virginia: Grade: 4th/5th round
13- Rhett Ellison, TE, Southern Cal: Grade: 5th round
14- Josh Chichester, TE, Louisville: Grade: 5th round
15- Aron White, TE, Georgia: Grade: 5th round
16- Anthony Miller, TE, California: Grade: 5th/6th round
17- Beau Reliford, TE, Florida State: Grade: 5th/6th round
18- Kavario Middleton, TE, Montana: Grade: 5th/6th round
19- Brad Herman, TE, Iowa: Grade: 6th round
20- Nick Provo, TE, Syracuse: Grade: 6th round
21- James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma: Grade: 6th/7th round
22- Brandon Barden, TE, Vanderbilt: Grade: 6th/7th round
23- Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati: Grade: 7th round
24- Alex Gottlieb, TE, William & Mary: Grade: 7th round
25- Jake Byrne, TE, Wisconsin: Grade: UDFA

1- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Grade: Top 10
2- Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina: Grade: 1st Round
3- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Grade: 1st round
4- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
5- Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
6- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd
7- Rueben Randle, WR, LSU: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd
8- Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin: Grade: 2nd/3rd
9- Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina: Grade: 2nd/3rd
10- Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa: Grade: Grade: 3rd
11- A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois: Grade: 3rd
12- Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State: Grade: 3rd
13- T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International: Grade: 3rd/4th
14- Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: Grade: 4th
15- Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma: Grade: 4th
16- Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama: Grade: 4th
17- Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas: Grade: 4th/5th
18- Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech: Grade: 4th/5th
19- DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State: Grade: 5th
20- Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M: Grade: 5th
21- Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: Grade: 5th
22- Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada: Grade: 5th
23- Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Grade: 5th/6th
24- B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State: Grade: 5th/6th
25- Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: Grade: 5th/6th
26- Lance Lewis, WR, East Carolina: Grade: 6th
27- Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan: Grade: 6th
28- Marvin Jones, WR, California: Grade: 6th
29- Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford: Grade: 6th
30- Derek Moye, WR, Penn State: Grade: 6th
31- Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami: Grade: 6th/7th
32- Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State: Grade: 7th
33- T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State: Grade: 7th
34- Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State: Grade: 7th
35- Mike Willie, WR, Arizona State: Grade: 7th
36- Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan: Grade: 7th/UDFA
37- James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State: Grade: 7th/UDFA
38- Da’Jon McKnight, WR, Minnesota: Grade: 7th/UDFA
39- Thomas Mayo, WR, California (PA): Grade: 7th/UDFA
40- Darius Reynolds, WR, Iowa State: Grade: 7th/UDFA

Wisconsin-Illinois:

-Montee Ball was the man in this game. He had a fantastic game rushing 38 times for 224 yards and 2 TD’s. He also added two receptions for a cumulative total of -1 yards, but he had a 5 yard reception for a touchdown to help bring Wisconsin back early in the 2nd half. I can’t say enough good things about Montee Ball. Last year he looked like he lacked burst, might have been carrying too much weight, and while he was still very effective I didn’t think he was a legitimate NFL prospect. This year he dropped about 25 pounds and the second I saw him touch the ball for the first time this year I immediately said “Wow, Montee looks like a completely different back.” He has so much more burst, so much more speed to finish runs, and hits the hole harder and faster. He still runs the ball hard, he runs through arm tackles with ease, he can run guys over when he puts his head down, and he gains a lot of yardage after contact. He has very reliable hands out of the backfield, and overall strikes me as a very complete back. Will he go in the first round? I’m not sure, but I would definitely put a 2nd round grade on him at this point. He has feature back written all over him in the NFL, and has proven that he can be an every down back because of the emphasis Wisconsin puts on running the ball and working the clock. Montee Ball, it’s time to go pro! I’ll have a scouting report up on him this upcoming week.

-Russell Wilson was not the headliner of this game by any stretch of the imagination. Montee Ball literally carried them, and Wilson was essentially a glorified bystander. He was 10/13 for only 90 yards and 1 touchdown (to Montee Ball) and ran for another touchdown on a naked bootleg at the goal line. Wilson has had much better games, and while he only threw three incompletions two of them were poor throws while he had plenty of room in the pocket to throw. He missed both high, and the second pass was not a clean spiral. Once Wisconsin had taken control of the game he did convert two throws on 3rd downs with ease to extend their drives which should not be overlooked, but I think Wisconsin could have handled Illinois very easily in this game if Wilson had been more of a difference maker in the passing game. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the statistics, but for a while Illinois was doing a solid job of taking Montee Ball away and Wilson wasn’t moving the ball for Wisconsin. Ball and Wisconsin’s offensive line wore Illinois down in the second half, but if that hadn’t happened I don’t know if Wilson could have won this game for Wisconsin today throwing the ball.

AJ Jenkins- Jenkins had an average game with only 4 receptions for 33 yards, but he was impressive. He had a touchdown called back by a very questionable offensive pass interference call on a TE who allegedly “picked” the defender like a basketball player, but in reality he barely touched him as he ran by him (his shoulder nicked Fenelus who was in coverage on the play). Jenkins had created legitimate separation over the middle, caught it cleanly and picked up the rest for a TD only to have it called back. Later on same drive Illinois was inaccurately called for a second “picking” penalty and this was even worse Darius Millines, a wide receiver on Illinois, stopped his route and avoided the defender and may not have actually touched him. Yet, the penalty was still called and another catch and run by Jenkins (this time down inside the five) was negated by a bad call by the refs. Jenkins was matched up with Fenelus the entire game from what I saw, and it was a pretty even battle. Jenkins created separation relatively consistently and if it weren’t for those penalties he would have had about 50-60 yards and potentially a touchdown. I’m a huge Jenkins fan and while I don’t think he’s a 1st or 2nd rounder because I don’t think he has great deep speed he strikes me as a nice #2 or slot receiver in the NFL because of his good hands, willingness to go over the middle, ability to make catches in traffic, and because he can make defenders miss in the open field to pick up yards after the catch.

-Antonio Fenelus had a very good game today. He was matched up on AJ Jenkins all game and while Jenkins did make some plays and create separation against him Fenelus held his own in coverage. Overall he had pretty good coverage on deep throws, he used the sideline well as a defender, but he did get beat deep on at least one play when Jenkins had separation down the middle but O’Toole’s pass was underthrown in the face of the wind. As a result, Fenelus recovered and made a great diving interception on the play. Fenelus had another shot at an interception but it went right through his hands, was tipped around and eventually intercepted by Aaron Henry. I’ve liked Fenelus since I watched him last year and personally feel that he is underrated. He’s not an elite corner prospect, but I think he has NFL ability and is worth mid-round consideration.

-Jeff Allen is the left tackle on Illinois. He has a lot of starting experience with over 30 career starts under his belt, and might actually be a four year starter. I’m not sold on him sticking at LT in the NFL, but I think his upside might be as a right tackle in a zone blocking scheme. He’s pretty agile for his size (listed at 6’5″, 315 pounds) and gets off the ball effectively, especially in the running game. I haven’t seen him much so I don’t know how well he cuts, but he is not a drive blocker so putting him in a man blocking scheme that relies on driving defenders off the ball is not where his upside lies. He does seal well and positions himself effectively to create running lanes for Illinois’ running backs, but I don’t think he has as much upside in a man scheme as he does in a zone scheme. He had a solid game against Whitney Mercilus because he didn’t have as many issues with him attempting to speed rush, but he struggles with speed and I don’t think he has the lateral agility and kick slide to mirror elite NFL pass rushers. I think he could be a solid/quality RT, but is a potential back-up LT that could play there in a pinch. That gives him some value, but I still grade him as a 4th round guy right now. If he has to move to RT his inability to move defenders off the ball in the run game hurts his value if he is forced to move there.

-This was the first game I have gotten to see Whitney Mercilus in since he has caught fire and garnered significant National attention. He’s a legitimate prospect, but I think he has to stick at LE in the NFL. He doesn’t have the edge speed to stick at RE in my opinion. He’s a strong guy with a lot of potential, but it was hard to evaluate him as a pass rusher when Russell Wilson only threw the ball 13 times and Montee Ball had 38 carries for 224 yards. I like his potential, but I need to see more. He had 17.5 TFL and 12.5 sacks coming into the game today, so I just need tos ee more of him.

-Michael Buchanan is another one of Illinois’ talented defensive linemen. He was on my list of potential break-out players before the season began and has produced 11.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks and 1 forced fumble on the year (before the Wisconsin game). He’s got great speed off the edge, but he needs to get stronger and add weight to stand up better against the run. He’s got potential, but still needs developing and coaching.

-Illinois middle linebacker Jonathan Brown may only be a sophomore but he is a star. Before today’s game he had 78 total tackles (only 29 solo), 14.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble and an interception. He has great instincts, he fills well, he flows to the ball well, and he just makes plays. I’m a huge fan and he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. He showed up often today as he always does.

-Ian Thomas is an underrated linebacker in my opinion. He’s only 6’1″, 235 pounds but he was filling very well when he had the opportunity to against Wisconsin. Is he a top 100 guy? No, but he’s a quality tackler with 64 tackles (23 solo), 8.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks so far this year. He’s got draftable ability in my opinion, but no one is talking about him. I think he will at worst get picked up as a UDFA and make a roster because of his potential contributions on special teams.

Yale-Harvard:

-Patrick Witt was the only reason I watched some of this game, and while I think he has some arm talent and accuracy I was not overly impressed. He stared down his receivers regularly, didn’t make very good decisions and ended up with two interceptions before I tuned back in to the Wisconsin-Illinois game. He has enough ability to be brought on as a UDFA, but I’m not sure he has draftable talent beyond late round consideration right now. He could make himself some money with a quality performance in a post-season game like the East-West Shrine Game though.

Michigan-Nebraska:

-Alfonzo Dennard didn’t seem to have a very good game against Michigan. I didn’t see much of the game, but when I watched I was not very impressed. I like him, but he hasn’t been helping his stock a lot in recent weeks.

-David Molk may be my #1 senior center in this class. He’s not very big, but he’s very mobile, has tons of starting experience, and is overall very reliable. He won’t be able to block a DT one on one in the NFL very often, but he’s intelligent and should have a very long NFL career. Not a 1st round pick, but definitely warrants 2nd-3rd round consideration.

-Denard Robinson should just move to slot receiver. I know Michigan won this game, but he could be such a dynamic receiver in the slot and that is the only position he has a NFL future at. Just bite the bullet Michigan!

I focused on the Illinois-Wisconsin game, but I had a few notes on the other prospects as well. Enjoy the rest of the games tonight!

–Tom

Kirk Cousins and the Michigan State Spartans were the ones celebrating at the end of this thrilling contest between two Big-10 championship contenders.

When I saw the schedule for this 2011 season I pointed this game out to every one of my friends who likes the Badgers and said “This is going to be a critical game not only for the Badgers’ season, but for the entire Big-10 conference.” After Michigan State lost to Notre Dame it didn’t seem like my prediction would come true, but boy did it ever prove to be correct. This game had immense ramifications not only for undefeated Wisconsin and one loss Michigan State, but for the rest of the teams in each division of the conference that are trying to catch both teams for a shot at the Big-10 title game.

I will readily admit that I missed the entire first half of this game. I was on my way back from an away game that my college’s football team lost (63-41, it was quite a shoot-out) and started watching instantly once I got back. I got to see Kirk Cousins and Le’Evon Bell drive down the field for a huge touchdown to put Michigan State up 31-17. I thought Wisconsin was toast at that point, especially because of how much trouble they were having slowing down Michigan State’s running game, plus they were struggling to move the ball effectively on offense. But Wisconsin’s defense made three great stops in a row and kept Wisconsin in the game, and Russell Wilson proved that he is worthy of a lot of the praise that he receives nationally by leading two touchdown drives in the last 10 minutes of the 4th quarter to tie the game at 31. On the game tying drive he was 4/4 with a huge 3rd down conversion, a fantastic throw on an extended play to Nick Toon, and then bought more time outside of the pocket, drew a defender in as he rolled to the sideline and dropped the ball off right over him to Montee Ball for an easy score.

Some of my close friends will remember me questioning how good of a coach Bret Bielema really is when we were freshmen and sophomores. Calling a timeout with 30 seconds left instead of playing for overtime didn't really change my mind.

This is where things got crazy.

Michigan State got the ball back and Cousins did not start strong. He checked down for three yards on his first pass, then short-armed a throw to the near sideline on a curl at the marker. 3rd and 7, and he threw a dart underneath to convert. Michigan State continued to try to move the ball, but couldn’t get significant chunks of yardage. With 30 seconds left, they were content to let the clock run out and take the game to overtime. But to my disbelief Bret Bielema called his second timeout of the half and stopped the clock, foolishly hoping to get the ball back to Russell Wilson and his suddenly potent offense. But with the ball around the 40 yard line, even if the Badgers had stopped the Spartans at that point they would have punted it and at best the Badgers could have hoped for the ball on the 30 yard line with 15 seconds or possibly less remaining. Not much time even with a timeout and Russell Wilson’s strong arm.

But Bilema decided to do it anyways, and Michigan State managed to convert and the game seemed to be slipping away from Wisconsin. But with 10 seconds left the Spartans found themselves outside of field goal range with only one timeout left. They snapped the ball and Cousins started scanning the field but the clock never started. In fact, the clock didn’t start running until after the play had nearly concluded and it continued to run after the play was over (all the way down to four seconds). Suffice it to say, in all the years I have been watching football I have never seen anything quite like that, and no one in the stadium seemed to notice nor did they seem to care. You’d think Michigan State would be interested in seeing if more time should have been allotted for that final play, but apparently not.

Ohio State and Michigan were both watching this game intently. Ohio State started slow, but is gaining momentum. Michigan has had a terrific start to the year, but needs to catch Michigan State.

Then the craziest thing of all happened. After the timeout, Michigan State lined up with trips on the right side of the formation, Cousins rolled out to his right side to buy time and lobbed up a hail mary. Jared Abbrederis and a number of other players were down waiting for the ball near the end zone and Abbrederis jumped to try to catch it or knock it down but he didn’t time it right. The ball bounced off of a Michigan State receiver in the end zone and Keith Nichol, a former quarterback who transitioned to wide receiver after losing the starting job to Cousins, managed to catch it on the one yard line. He then fought tooth and nail to BARELY claw the ball over the goal line for a touchdown. Initially it was ruled that he was down on the one yard line, but when looking at the replays of the play it was clear that the ball crossed the plane of the end zone (even if it barely crossed it).

So, with that, the Spartans beat the Badgers for the second year in a row during a critical portion of the season. This doesn’t dramatically hurt the Badgers’ bid to ultimately become Big-10 champions because Michigan State and Wisconsin are in separate divisions, but it does all but dash Wisconsin’s chances at the BCS National Championship. Ohio State is looming after coming off of a quality win over then-ranked Illinois. Wisconsin travels to Columbus next, and it is imperative that they win this game to keep Ohio State from roaring back in the second half of the season. Michigan State maintained their lead in the opposite division ahead of Michigan, and if they win out they will be in the Big-10 Championship Game. Wisconsin is in the same boat, and I for one hope both win out so that we can see a rematch of this game. It probably won’t be as exciting or as unpredictable as this one was, but it would likely be a great game.

NCAA Week 5 Top 25 Picks

South Florida over Pittsburgh

BJ Daniels should have a good game and Pittsburgh struggles with close games. The trouble is, this one might not end up being that close.

South Florida by 13

Texas A&M over Arkansas

Ryan Tannehill had a pretty good game last week in a loss to Oklahoma State, and the Aggies will be looking to rebound against Arkansas just a week after they were thoroughly dominated by Alabama. Both teams really need a win here, but I think Arkansas’ defense will prove problematic against the Aggies.

Texas A&M by 6

Michigan over Minnesota (Potential blow-out)

Denard Robinson should have a big game running and possibly a big game passing against the Gophers who are trying to turn the program around under Jerry Kill. The trouble is the head coach has had trouble with seizures, and there is no way it hasn’t had an impact on his players. Minnesota is simply overmatched in this game, and I see Michigan blowing them out.

Michigan by 24

Illinois over Northwestern

Illinois is a solid team but so is Northwestern. I expect Illinois to win, but don’t sleep on Northwestern. They are well coached and have some talent, plus they never go away. If the Illini let them hang around they could make a late push.

Illinois by 7

LSU over Kentucky (Potential blow-out)

LSU is hitting on all cylinders right now and Kentucky is going to be borderline powerless to stop them. Their defense is the best in the country and their running attack is extremely tough to slow down, much less stop. I see LSU winning in blow-out.

LSU by 24

Boise State over Nevada

Boise State lost this game to Nevada last year in dramatic fashion, but I don’t see Nevada pulling off two in a row. They should be overmatched, and Kellen Moore and company won’t be merciful after what Nevada did to their title hopes last season.

Boise State by 21

Georgia Tech over NC State

Georgia Tech’s running game is absolutely gashing anyone who gets in their way, even my beloved Tar Heels last week, and NC State’s defense isn’t on the same level as North Carolina’s. I expect them to run the ball early and often and control the clock in this game, and I think Georgia Tech should win pretty comfortably.

Georgia Tech by 17

West Virginia over Bowling Green

West Virginia is coming off of a rough loss against LSU, but Geno Smith looked poised and impressive staring into the teeth of the best defense in the nation and actually carved them up to an extent by throwing for 463 yards on 38 of 65 passing (58.5% completion) and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Was it a great game? No, but it was quite good for a developing quarterback against a fantastic defense. WVU should rebound easily against Bowling Green now that they know what their offense is truly capable of.

West Virginia by 28

Baylor over Kansas State

Robert Griffin III has been absolutely amazing this year. Through three games he has completed 70 of 82 pass attempts while throwing for 962 yards (11.73 yards per attempt, an insane number), 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. Last season he threw 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 13 games, an impressive statistical season. He is on pace to throw for well over 40 touchdowns at this current pace. It’s hard to imagine him continuing to play this way especially since he is averaging only four incompletions per GAME, but if he keeps playing comparably well to how he has started the season the Baylor Bears will be tough for anyone to beat. I don’t anticipate Kansas State being the team to cool Griffin off, so the Bears should win easily.

Baylor by 21

Auburn over South Carolina (upset)

I think South Carolina is pretty overrated and I think Auburn has a chance to pull off the upset here. Gene Chizik and his Auburn Tigers have a flair for the dramatic and they are tough to beat when you let them hang around. They always seem to make the big play late in the game to keep themselves alive, and they are well coached when it comes to playing from behind late in the game. I love Marcus Lattimore, but I don’t think Steve Spurrier has much faith in Stephen Garcia and I’m not sold on South Carolina’s defense. The game is in South Carolina, but I think Auburn has a great chance to pull off this upset. It will be interesting to see if they manage to do so.

Auburn by 3

TCU over SMU

I think SMU has a small chance of pulling off an upset here, but TCU is the better team overall. It will be interesting to see which way this game goes, but if SMU gets their offense going they could be tough to keep up with. Their running back Zach Line has 463 yards and 11 touchdowns in only four games, and their top receiver Darius Johnson has 27 catches, 398 yards and two scores already. I think TCU will win, but I don’t think it will be as easy as some people might think.

TCU by 7

Clemson over Virginia Tech

This was a really tough game for me to pick. I picked Clemson to upset Florida State last week, but Virginia Tech is extremely tough at home and the Tigers have to cool off EVENTUALLY right? Perhaps, but I don’t think it will be this week. I am high on Virginia Tech’s defense though and I think they have a chance to slow down Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and the rest of Clemson’s high flying offense in this game. However, what might define the game is how well Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech’s offense is able to play. Thomas has been solid thus far with 761 yards on 60 of 105 passing (57.1% completion) but he has thrown as many touchdowns (4) as interceptions. Clemson is on fire right now, so it will be interesting to see how this game plays out.

Clemson by 7

Texas over Iowa State

The Longhorns lost this game last year and I think they will make sure they show up to this one. Iowa State isn’t a push-over this year, but I think the Longhorns will be too much for them.

Texas by 14

Oklahoma over Ball State

Oklahoma still has a legitimate argument to be the #1 team in the country, so I don’t think they will have too much trouble with Ball State.

Oklahoma by 28

Alabama over Florida

This is going to be a fantastic game. I think Alabama and Florida have the 2nd and 3rd best defenses in the country only to LSU, so this is going to be a defensive slug fest if I had to guess. I picked Alabama because I trust their offense more thanks to Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy on the ground. This should be a great, close game though.

Alabama by 10

Wisconsin over Nebraska

This game is going to be fantastic. I have been waiting for this game ever since I heard that Russell Wilson might sign with the Badgers. Wisconsin’s run defense might be problematic against Nebraska, but I think Wisconsin’s offense is more than potent enough to put up points on the Cornhuskers. It should be a great game that is close right until the end, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. I do expect Russell Wilson to give the Badgers the push they need to win this game. A year ago I couldn’t have picked Wisconsin, but with Wilson at the helm I expect them to win.

Wisconsin by 7

Stanford over UCLA

Stanford is just too talented and well coached to be slowed down by UCLA.

Stanford by 21

Arizona State over Oregon State

Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler is a player that I am really warming up to, and I expect that he and the Sun Devils won’t have a lot of trouble with the win-less Oregon State Beavers.

Arizona State by 17

I was 16-3 last week, so let’s see how I do this week! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the games!

–Tom

NCAA Top 25 Picks Post

Here is a post where I make some picks for the games the top 25 teams are playing for the week. I’ll try to do this every week, but I might not always have time. I’ll track them to see how well (or poorly) I do over the course of the season. Enjoy!

Week Four NCAA Picks Post:

Oklahoma over Missouri

Analysis: Oklahoma’s offense and defense are both very good, and Missouri didn’t prove they could win against Arizona State, losing 37-30 in OT. James Franklin will probably struggle to carve up the Oklahoma defense like he did the ASU secondary, and I wonder just how much pressure their defense will be able to apply to Landry Jones. Jones will make poor throws when he has pressure in his face, so that will be the key to hanging in on this game. The problem is, I don’t think Missouri’s secondary can hold up consistently if the Tigers are forced to blitz to create pressure.

Oklahoma by 17

LSU over West Virginia

Analysis: LSU’s defense is the best in the country as far as I’m concerned. They were tested right off the bat against Oregon and stood very tall. I’ve never seen a defensive tackle rotation like theirs in all my years of watching football. I believe that they have four starting caliber defensive tackles, and they arguably have three starting caliber cornerbacks in Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon. Claiborne is a junior and Mathieu and Simon are both sophomores, but they might be the best trio of cornerbacks in the country. LSU’s run defense and pass defense are both very good and their defense is very fast, and I think they are going to cause a lot of problems for Geno Smith and his offensive counterparts. On defense, West Virginia will have to pressure Jarrett Lee, but also stop LSU from establishing the running game because they love to run play action after establishing the run (and they’re quite good at it). Without the play action fake LSU struggles to threaten downfield due to Lee’s lack of arm strength. However, I think WVU will struggle to take away the run game, end up loading the box, and therefore allowing Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham and Deagnelo Peterson to get behind the secondary.

LSU by 16

Alabama over Arkansas

This one was tough for me to call. Alabama probably has the #2 defense in the country behind LSU (at least as far as I’m concerned, but it’s definitely close) and they have a quarterback with limited experience as well in AJ McCarron. Luckily, they have two talented running backs to take the pressure off of him in Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Marquis Maze has stepped up as I thought he would and has 15 receptions, 186 yards and 1 TD in the first three contests. I think Alabama will be able to move the ball on offense against Arkansas’ defense, but I think that Alabama will be able to slow down the Razorbacks offensive attack. I love their WR’s, led by Cobi Hamilton as of now (13 receptions, a team leading 252 yards, 19.4 average per catch and 1 TD) and Tyler Wilson has stepped in to fill the void left by Ryan Mallett like I thought he would. However, Alabama’s defense is vastly better than Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy (the three teams he has faced this year) and much better than Auburn’s defense that struggled mightily to stop big, physically gifted receivers every time they matched up against them. Arkansas won’t get shut out by any means, but Alabama is going to be Tyler Wilson’s first real taste of what it’s like to play against a SEC caliber defense, and I don’t think he’s going to enjoy it.

Alabama by 13

Boise State over Tulsa

This really isn’t a hard pick in my opinion. Boise State’s defensive line is fierce and I expect Billy Winn and company to be in GJ Kinne’s face for the majority of this game. Boise State’s offense is still clicking thanks to Kellen Moore, so I expect this to be a relatively easy win. Kinne has a chance to show talent evaluators what he can do though, as his team is clearly overmatched.

Boise State by 21

Wisconsin over South Dakota

This shouldn’t be much of a contest either, as Wisconsin’s offense has the potential to be one of the best in the Big 10 if it isn’t already the best. Their running game and play action game will be way too much for South Dakota to handle, and hopefully they have continued to work on their run defense. If they don’t have it tuned up soon they will have a lot of trouble stopping Nebraska.

Wisconsin by 21

Texas A&M over Oklahoma State

This one was very tough for me to call as well. This could very easily go either way considering it is a rare battle between the #7 and #8 teams in the country. Oklahoma State’s offense is a juggernaut still led by Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but Weeden has thrown 6 interceptions already this season, so that is a concerning stat for OSU fans. However, Joseph Randle has stepped up to replace Kendall Hunter very nicely, running for 378 yards and 7 TD’s on only 62 carries (6.1 average). Ryan Tannehill is a dangerous quarterback though, and he’s got a number of weapons to work with. I’m not sure which defense is better than the other, but I do think that Texas A&M will miss Von Miller rushing the passer in this game. However, Oklahoma State’s defense is traditionally their weakness, so that is why I had to go with Texas A&M. I will be at an away game during this contest and I am very angry that I will miss it. It should be a great game. But I had to give A&M the slight edge.

Texas A&M by 6

Nebraska over Wyoming

Not a very tough call on this one. Nebraska should win this game easily even if Taylor Martinez doesn’t dazzle as a passer.

Nebraska by 28

Oregon over Arizona

This one wasn’t as easy for me to pick as I thought it might be. Oregon has a pretty good defense, but Arizona can move the football pretty well. I’m still confident in Oregon, but Nick Foles has a habit of surprising people when they sleep on him. I don’t think Oregon will take him for granted though especially after losing a tough one to LSU in Cowboys Stadium, and that’s why I think they will end up with a big Pac-12 win here.

Oregon by 14

Clemson over Florida State (Upset)

Clemson is absolutely on fire right now, and this is the worst time for Florida State to be playing them. This isn’t a guarantee by any means, but Clemson’s offense is firing on all cylinders and Florida State didn’t get consistent pressure on Landry Jones last week. Clemson’s offensive line isn’t nearly the equivalent of Oklahoma’s, but they have enough weapons on offense to at least make this a plausible upset. I don’t think Clemson has the defense to keep them in the game if they can’t score, so unless their defense steps up and slows FSU down they are going to make me look foolish for this pick.

Clemson by 7

South Carolina over Vanderbilt

This isn’t as easy of a pick as I thought it would be, especially since South Carolina is in a state of flux and Vanderbilt is undefeated for the first time in recent memory after three weeks. I don’t think Vanderbilt will be able to hold off South Carolina, but stranger things have happened. If it was ever going to happen, I think it would happen now. Steve Spurrier doesn’t seem to have much faith in Stephen Garcia and even though they have one of the best backs in the country in Marcus Lattimore you just never know what will happen in the SEC. I don’t expect Vanderbilt to pull it off, but this is one I would watch as a POSSIBLE upset.

South Carolina by 10

Virginia Tech over Marshall

Analysis: This shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Virginia Tech, but it should be a good tune-up game for Logan Thomas. I think he has tons of upside, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops throughout the season.

Virginia Tech by 17

Florida over Kentucky

Analysis: Kentucky isn’t a terrible team, but Florida’s defense is vastly better than I expected it to be even without Janoris Jenkins. Chris Rainey really impressed me last week and if he can stay healthy I think he could really improve his draft stock. I’m pretty high on Jonathan Bostic, Jaye Howard and Dominique Easley on their defense, so I’m excited to see them play against Kentucky again. I don’t anticipate the Gators having a lot of trouble in this game.

Florida by 14

Baylor over Rice

Analysis: Robert Griffin has been absolutely LETHAL this year. He’s 41/49 for 624 yards (83.7% completion), 12.74 yards per attempts and he has 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. On top of that, he has 116 yards rushing. Kendall Wright has been huge for Baylor with 20 receptions (14 more than the next receiver), 312 yards (184 yards more than the next receiver) and 3 TD’s. I don’t think Rice has much of a chance to slow Griffin down. The first time he might slow down in my estimation would be October 15th against A&M once they get into the real meat of their schedule. I haven’t been able to watch much of him, but it will be interesting to go back and watch him play to see if he has corrected any of the things I said he needed to work on in my preseason scouting report.

Baylor by 21

South Florida over UTEP

Analysis: South Florida is having one of their best seasons in recent memory, at least to start the season, and BJ Daniels seems to be maturing rather nicely. As long as he continues to develop the sky is the limit for USF, and I don’t think UTEP will have much of a chance to slow them down this week.

South Florida by 17

TCU over Portland State

Analysis: TCU lost a tough one against Baylor in week one, but they seemed to have bounced back in recent weeks. Portland State shouldn’t pose much of a threat, even with an inexperienced quarterback still getting a feel for the starting role.

TCU by 17

Michigan over San Diego State

Analysis: Brady Hoke welcomes his former team into the Big House as the Head Coach of the Wolverines this week as pretty heavy favorites. Denard Robinson isn’t my favorite quarterback but he is incredibly fast and I’m not sure SDSU has the speed to keep up with him in this game. Junior Hemingway has really stepped up this year (even though he looks like a TE rumbling downfield sometimes on go routes). It’ll be interesting to see how Michigan does in this game, but I would be pretty surprised if they botched this game after clawing their way into the top 25.

Michigan by 17

USC over Arizona State

Analysis: Before the game against Illinois last week I might have picked Arizona State in this one, but Brock Osweiler is still developing and even though the Sun Devils had a huge win against Missouri a couple weeks ago I don’t think they are ready to knock off USC. USC has a big chip on its shoulder because of the bowl ban that was placed on them, and I think they will approach this game with something to prove even though they are favored.

USC by 10

Illinois over Western Michigan

Analysis: This shouldn’t be a challenging game for Illinois. Western Michigan isn’t a bad program, but I don’t think they have the firepower to stick with Illinois on either side of the ball. They just fought their way into the top 25, so I don’t think they’ll get upset after just earning their #24 ranking.

North Carolina over Georgia Tech (Upset)

Analysis: I have to admit that I am a UNC fan, so that may have had something to do with this pick (which really isn’t much of an upset, though technically it is). I think UNC’s offense can score on Georgia Tech’s defense, and I think UNC’s defense is fast enough and disciplined enough to slow down Georgia Tech’s option offense that absolutely dominated Kansas last week. Georgia Tech is flying high, but UNC usually plays them pretty well and they are talented enough to pull this off. I really wish I could see this game, but I will be traveling and working while it goes on.

Those are my picks for this week. Hopefully you enjoy them and I look forward to seeing some good football this week. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Saturday Games to Watch:

Saturday:
-West Virginia-Maryland:
I am excited to watch this game because there are a couple intriguing prospects (notably Bruce Irvin for West Virginia) that I’d like to get a look at, plus I think Danny O’Brien has it in him to potentially pull an upset. I haven’t watched West Virginia at all to get a sense for how they are doing this year, but I was incredibly impressed with O’Brien against Miami. He’s got a lot of upside and I expect him to play well today if his OL can keep him upright. Geno Smith is a quality QB too though, he just doesn’t project to the NFL as well as I think O’Brien does. I’m excited to see how this game plays out, and if my hunch is correct it could go down to the wire.

-Tennessee-Florida:
I am very excited to see this game because I think Tennessee can pull off the upset. It’s easy to look at this game and say “Oh, the 16th best team in the country against an unranked team? I’ll take Florida” but Tennessee is no slouch and if they can protect Tyler Bray he can carve up very talented defenses (see the Tennessee-UNC bowl game from last year. Might not be an “SEC” caliber defense, but still very talent laden). I want to see how John Brantley does as well, plus Florida always has talented players on defense that I’d like to see. Malik Jackson, a DE on Tennessee, was a player on my list of potential break-out players so I would like to see how he plays.

-Michigan State-Notre Dame:
I still can’t stop laughing at people who keeps saying “Notre Dame is a good team and I really like their squad” when they have started 0-2 and proved that their preseason top 25 ranking was completely unjustified, at least in my opinion. While they played a good game against Michigan, the Wolverines are not on the same level as the Spartans are. I have a hard time believing Notre Dame will be able to slow down their running game and Kirk Cousins is one of the best senior quarterbacks in the country. I think Notre Dame has a chance to give them a run for their money, but I don’t think they have it in them to pull off the upset.

-Virginia-North Carolina
Both are 2-0 this season and North Carolina passed their first test beating Rutgers in a close game last weekend. I don’t have very high hopes for them with the loss of Butch Davis and a new, young QB in Bryn Rynner (though I do like him). This is a big game for them though and if they can pull it off it would be huge for them to start out 3-0 in spite of all the turmoil the program has been through the last two years.

-Arizona State-Illinois
Arizona State dazzled everyone who watched the Thursday Night game about a week or so ago when they upset Missouri on national television in an overtime game. Brock Osweiler stole the show as far as I’m concerned as he was incredibly impressive and played an extremely efficient and effective game for ASU. He demonstrated a very strong arm, was placing the ball very well, and made only two throws that I identified as poor decisions or bad throws. Illinois is on the upswing in my opinion with Nathan Scheelhaase returning for his second season as a starter. I think Arizona State has the upper hand in this one, but it should be a pretty good game since Illinois is at home.

-Ohio State-Miami
This is a tough game for me to call. I actually trust Jacory Harris more than I trust any of Ohio State’s QB’s, but that isn’t saying much considering the fact that I think Stephen Morris should start for the ‘Canes. Regardless, Miami has an insane level of talent (especially on defense) even with some of their suspensions that have rocked the program. Ohio State is very talented as well, but I think they have demonstrated that they are not an elite or even a very good team by any means in their first two games. Miami can win this game, it’s just a question of who wins the turnover battle in my opinion. If Harris avoids interceptions and moves Miami down the field methodically with a few big plays, Miami has a great shot at winning. If Ohio State can get a few downfield plays and avoid turnovers, plus create them on the defensive side of the ball, they could win this game. It will be interesting to see which way it goes, but there’s a part of me that wants to pick Miami…

-Oklahoma-Florida State
This game is an extremely tough one for me to call. It’s almost impossible to bet against Oklahoma but Florida State is a very talented team. I like what E.J. Manuel brings to the table a lot, and while I like Landry Jones I don’t think he is a 1st round QB because of his issues dealing with interior pressure and because of his propensity for interceptions last season. This is going to be a critical litmus test for both programs as Oklahoma has been taking flak lately for not being able to win big games and Florida State is trying to prove that the “old” Florida State that used to battle for conference supremacy with Miami is back. It’s hard to bet against Oklahoma, but I am hoping for a great game unlike the match up last year in Norman where Oklahoma blew the doors off FSU.

-Stanford-Arizona
This might not seem like that big of a game, but Arizona has a tendency to pull off upsets and while I don’t think Nick Foles is anything more than a mid-round NFL QB prospect he can definitely sling it, especially in Arizona’s offense. He has been very efficient to start the season and while Stanford is clearly the better team they should try to avoid getting into a shootout with Arizona, because that’s the kind of game they want to play. I expect Stanford to win, but I also expect Arizona to give them a bit of a scare during the course of this game.

Thanks for reading and enjoy all the games today! There should be some exciting ones as usual.

–Tom